August 30, 2009
— Ace Shocking, except it's not.
The British government decided it was in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom to make Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, eligible for return to Libya, leaked ministerial letters reveal.
Gordon Browns government made the decision after discussions between Libya and BP over a multi-million-pound oil exploration deal had hit difficulties. These were resolved soon afterwards.
The letters were sent two years ago by Jack Straw, the justice secretary, to Kenny MacAskill, his counterpart in Scotland, who has been widely criticised for taking the formal decision to permit Megrahis release.
The correspondence makes it plain that the key decision to include Megrahi in a deal with Libya to allow prisoners to return home was, in fact, taken in London for British national interests.
Edward Davey, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said: This is the strongest evidence yet that the British government has been involved for a long time in talks over al-Megrahi in which commercial considerations have been central to their thinking.
Two letters dated five months apart show that Straw initially intended to exclude Megrahi from a prisoner transfer agreement...
Straw then switched his position as Libya used its deal with BP as a bargaining chip to insist the Lockerbie bomber was included.
The exploration deal for oil and gas, potentially worth up to £15 billion, was announced in May 2007. Six months later the agreement was still waiting to be ratified.
In a letter leaked by a Whitehall source, he wrote: I had previously accepted the importance of the al-Megrahi issue to Scotland and said I would try to get an exclusion for him on the face of the agreement. I have not been able to secure an explicit exclusion.
The wider negotiations with the Libyans are reaching a critical stage and, in view of the overwhelming interests for the United Kingdom, I have agreed that in this instance the [prisoner transfer agreement] should be in the standard form and not mention any individual.
Within six weeks of the government climbdown, Libya had ratified the BP deal.
It is bizarre to me that leftists want to subcontract out the US foreign policy to foreign powers. The naivety here is astounding -- the assumption that every other country except the US cares only for the greater, general good and easily sets aside its own nationalist ambitions and pecuniary gain.
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